Sitting or squatting in the street outside the Texas Capitol, hundreds of marchers give the middle finger in protest of the overturning of Roe V. Wade

Middle Fingers Up In Austin After End of ‘Roe’

Hundreds took to the streets of Austin after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

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More than 1,000 people marched through downtown Austin on Friday, June 25 to express their anger and sadness over the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe V. Wade and the impending, widespread erosion of abortion access as a result.

Hundreds of protests throng the steps of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Austin, Texas.
Hundreds of protesters thronged the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown Austin in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s striking down Roe. Kit O’Connell/Texas Observer

Organized coalitions like Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and others called for protesters to gather at the federal courthouse and in the surrounding Republic Square Park on the night after the Supreme Court decision came down. Word spread rapidly via social networks and posters affixed to lampposts throughout the city.

With signs like "Pro-Life does not equal Pro-Life" and "You Think You're Still Getting Pussy, That's Cute" marchers parade through downtown Austin, closely followed by Austin Police.
The tail end of the reproductive justice march, soon after protestors left Republic Square Park in downtown Austin Kit O’Connell/Texas Observer

The energy was high despite temperatures that remained over 101 degrees. The protest took to the streets after a series of speeches and chants. Closely tailed by police, activists acted as parade marshals to control rush-hour traffic as the march swelled to more than a city block in length.

Sitting or squatting in the street outside the Texas Capitol, hundreds of marchers give the middle finger in protest of the overturning of Roe V. Wade
Marchers raise their middle fingers in front of the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin—a rebuke to the Republican-controlled state government and the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. Kit O’Connell/Texas Observer

State troopers shut down the Texas Capitol grounds as the group approached, forcing marchers to gather at the intersection outside the gates. At the urging of an organizer on a megaphone, they sat or squatted on the hot pavement to hold space.

A driver peaks through the sunroof of her stopped car to cheer on protesters
A driver peaks through the sunroof of her stopped car to cheer on protesters. Kit O’Connell/Texas Observer
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Police and state troopers stopped marchers from approaching the Governor’s Mansion, sending them streaming past it instead, eventually looping around south to return to their starting point in Republic Square Park.

Marchers returned to Republic Square Park before some set off to take the streets again.
Marchers returned to Republic Square Park before some set off to take the streets again. Kit O’Connell/Texas Observer

While numbers dwindled quickly, a second march began from the park soon after. Police made at least one arrest, according to eyewitness reports and tweets. Austin Police Department officials did not respond to a request for comment. [Update 6/28/2022: An Austin Police Department spokesperson confirmed there were two arrests at Friday’s protest, with an additional three arrests at a similar protest on Sunday, June 26.]

As the park emptied, some marchers left their signs behind as a final message.

A sign leaning on the Auction Oak in Republic Square reads "Free Abortion On Demand Forever."
An abandoned sign against the historic Auction Oak in Republic Square Kit O’Connell/Texas Observer

One demonstrator left a more lasting impression on the courthouse.

Graffiti on the side of the Federal Courthouse in Austin, Texas reads "Fuck Your Laws" in black spraypaint. In the background, a few activists gather.
Graffiti on the side of the federal courthouse after the abortion access march